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UK start-up introduces inflatable deep water culture systemA UK start-up has big plans to increase access to hydroponic foods with the introduction of a new affordable, inflatable, deep water hydroponic system.
The Hydrosac is developed by Phytoponics, a startup founded by three youngsters with backgrounds in engineering, agriculture and horticulture. Founder Adam Dixon stressed out that the group has big plans with their inflatable system. "We hope to launch the first commercial system designed for vine crops mid 2018".
According to Dixon, the system offers great potential for vine crop cultivation. Other than the standard production method of growing in substrate slabs or buckets with growing media and a gutter system for re-circulation, the Hydrosac offers a stand-alone solution.
After rolling it out and inflating it, the system holds a body of water with an integrated aerator inside. On top, plant holes can hold a transplanting pot with the seedling. The system, which can go up to 50 meters in length, eliminates the use of auxiliary re-circulation gutters or drip irrigation. Phytoponics worked closely with the RPC bpi group for the development of the plastic film material.
In the beginning of the crop stage, the aeration system allows for oxygenation and misting of the transplant roots. Further down the road, when roots are formed, the high flow nutrient system creates a deep water culture in the Hydrosac. The system allows for an eb and flow irrigation scheme, to irrigate the crop precisely and recirculate nutrients throughout the day, according to the needs of the crop.
Dixon and his peers believe that the easy to install system will increase the availability of sustainable produced foods. They target a group of growers who want to start hydroponic vine crop greenhouse production, but who do not all have the knowledge and funds available to invest in expensive, complicated systems. "The Hydrosac is more affordable and easier to install than other commercial technology currently available on the market. We also believe that the deep water culture system also makes it easier to grow a productive crop because there it enables a certain consistency in the nutrient supply."
Phytoponics has been trialing the system in their own R&D greenhouse, where they also develop their own nutrient delivery units and system. They are currently engineering and tweaking their system according to the feedback of commercial growers. They welcome more European greenhouse growers to trial their system, especially in the UK and Italy.
The first commercial Hydrosac system is tailored for vine crop cultivation, but Phytonics plans to enroll the system for other crops like leafy vegetables too. They are just closing a new seed round and investors and other parties interested are welcome to join them. In the meanwhile, Adam Dixon is also running the UN's Young Champions of the Earth competition. Click here to vote for his idea!
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